A growing Rochester biotech firm founded by two Mayo Clinic researchers has started dosing of the first patient in a Phase 2 clinical trial of a possible late-stage cancer treatment.

Vyriad, which is building a $9 million headquarters, research and manufacturing facility at the former IBM Rochester campus, made the announcement about the milestone in its research on Monday morning.

Vyriad, founded in 2016 by Mayo Clinic researchers Dr. Kah-Whye Peng and Dr. Stephen Russell, uses viruses, such as measles and others, to attack cancer tumors. The two-stage process has the clinical-stage oncolytic virus damage the tumor and then "wake up" a patient’s immune system to finish destroying the cancer.

The clinical trial is to evaluate using Vyriad’s oncolytic virus Voyager-V1 in combination with the PD-1 inhibitor Libtayo in four difficult-to-treat advanced stage melanoma, lung, liver and endometrial cancers. Libtayo is being jointly developed and commercialized by pharmaceutical giants Regeneron and Sanofi.

This patient trial is considered "a basket test" to see how melanoma, lung, liver and endometrial cancers react. The trial is expected to take two to three years.

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“The promise of cancer immunotherapies has yet to be fulfilled as evidenced by their limited effectiveness in many patient groups,“ said Dr. Steven Powell in the announcement. Powell is a medical oncologist who is the study’s principal investigator at Sanford Health, which treated the first patient in the study.

In 2019, Vyriad moved from downtown Rochester into a 25,000-square-foot lab on the Rochester Technology Campus, the former IBM campus, at 3605 U.S. 52 North. Russell said in November that he expects working with Regeneron will require Vyriad to double its team of 20 employees to at least 40, possibly 45.

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street. Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger. You can call him at 507-285-7798.